Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah, Spain’s Marc Coma and Poland’s Rafal Sonik each confirmed their third victories at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in four years in the cars, bikes and quads categories yesterday.
Victories on the final stage of the five-day event fell to Reinaldo Varela, Joan Barreda Bort and Mohammed Abu Issa.
However, Al Attiyah, Coma and Sonik managed their pace to perfection over the closing 381.89km stage to record victories by margins of 27min 53sec, 4min 40sec and 8hr 06min 06sec respectively.
Al Attiyah won three of the five stages in the cars category and, aside from a plethora of flat tyres, the Qatari continued his run of victories this season.
“It was a tough race, it was really long, not like last year. We were leading from the beginning and it was a great week for us,” said Al Attiyah.
Defending FIA World Cup champion Vladimir Vasilyev continues to top the overall standings after finishing second in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi is one of the most improved drivers in the world this year but he lost his chance of leaping to second in the championship after he suffered a broken drive shaft over the final kilometres and got stuck in the sand dunes.
Coma won only one of the five stages, but the master tactician coped with the intense heat and remained focused for the complex navigation to record his second win in four weeks and extend his advantage in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship after two rounds.
“It was a tough race, one of the toughest we do in the world championship. It was a nice fight. We have started the season well, with the Dakar and Abu Dhabi and now Qatar,” said Coma.
The quad contest was settled on Thursday afternoon when Abu Issa struck a rock, his Honda TRX shed a wheel and he incurred a fistful of time penalties.
This put daylight between him and defending Dakar champion Sonik, the Pole staying out of trouble over the closing kilometres to reach the finish well clear of stage winner Abu Issa to claim the top spot in the FIM quad series points’ standings after round two.
Poland’s Kamil Wisniewski was third on a Yamaha Raptor. Eighth-placed Russian Maxim Kirpliev claimed victory in the T2 category behind the wheel of his Toyota LC200. The T3 glory fell to 10th-placed Frenchman Eric Mozas in a Polaris RZR 1000